Friday, September 20, 2013

NCAA Cabinet Approves Change to NCAA Tournament Process

This week, this is one of the big news stories to come out for college hockey. In a nut shell, the small schools in Division I college hockey are lobbying the NCAA to tweak the NCAA selection criteria to reflect wins on the road. It appears that they have been successful with their efforts. The small schools’ quip is that the certain schools – more specifically the big division I schools – won’t travel to small schools arenas and play them.

That’s not a problem with my favorite team UND, they have a tradtion of making trips to nonconference games.

Some of these schools feel that they’re getting a raw deal when it comes time for the NCAA tournament for bids to the NCAA hockey tourney and they’re being left out in the cold, because they didn’t qualify for the NCAA tourney. Their reason, they claim, is that they are being punished for too many nonconference losses in other teams’ barns

Now, I do believe that there is “some” validity to those claims. Obviously, if your team has too many nonconference losses you’re not going to make the NCAA tourney. Recently, I can think of a couple of teams in the past that this bit in the rear end, because of their bad out of conference record. Also, I think a few teams “just” slipped into the NCAA tourney that would have probably made it with ease if they didn’t have as many bad losses. I also believe the math would probably support this assertion.

As we know in college hockey, not all things are equal. I also believe that there’s a downside to this, the big schools aren’t going to want to travel to a AHA team’s rink and play in front of much smaller crowds than they’re used to playing in front of. So, they will just find big schools to schedule out of conference series with. I do believe the teams that have less will still be left out in the cold.

Moving forward I am surprised there’s isn’t more pushback against this new possible rule change. First, by not having as many home games, these teams are also going to lose money because of them having less home games that they use the revenue from to fund the rest of their athletic department. Also, some of the ECAC schools only have “X” numbers of nonconference game that their schools allow them to play.
College Hockey News – Many coaches have been clamoring for changes in recent years, but, in light of the impending major conference re-alignment coming this season, the issue got particular attention at this year's coach's convention and Men's Ice Hockey Committee meetings.

The concern has been that a big difference in the amount of home and away games, puts teams from the smaller conferences — who, on average, play more road non-conference games — at a disadvantage in the selection criteria.

For example, among teams in the new Big Ten, Wisconsin has 14 non-league games, 10 home and four away; Ohio State has 14 non-league games, 11 home and three away; and Minnesota has 16 non-league games, 12 at home (including a tournament at the Xcel Center) and four away.

The details are still unknown, but there were a number of proposals on the table when the issue was being discussed over the summer. One proposal, for example, would re-balance the RPI (Ratings Percentage Index) evenly among home and road games — removing the advantage.

It's not yet known, however, which form the changes will take.
Moving forward, I think you’re going to see more Christmas tourneys and matchups between the bigger more attractive schools. I don’t know if in the end, the small schools will actually benefit from this rule. They will get punished less in the mathematical equation for losing on the road.